Nebraska’s rural communities rollout second round of COVID vaccines

“The clock starts ticking when it leaves that super storage area within our county; you then have five days.” -- Susie VonBergen, COO, Nemaha County Hospital.
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 7:43 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nemaha County Hospital received their second round of the Pfizer vaccine Monday, and within two hours of delivery it was prepped and ready to be administered.

“The clock starts ticking when it leaves that super storage area within our county; you then have five days,” said Susie VonBergen, COO, Nemaha County Hospital.

Like most rural hospitals Nemaha County doesn’t have an ultra-cold freezer instead it’s stored in a fridge and once it’s taken out they have to move quickly.

“It needs to be diluted within two hours of coming to room temperature and then at that point it’s stable for only six hours so you gotta get it in the arms,” said Emily Brueggemann, Nemaha County Hospital, a pharmacist.

Frontline workers who received the vaccine three weeks ago are returning for their second shot. And, it’s all hands on deck to make sure none of the doses go to waste.

Related: Nebraska Gov. Ricketts COVID-19 update

“One thing about a small community is it’s really easy, we’ve found, if you have an extra does, or somebody didn’t show up, somebody’s got somebody they can call from EMS or another facility and they can get here right away,” said Brueggemann.

And amidst the focus, there’s also a sense of relief. “Oh my gosh, it’s so exciting because I feel like we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, hopefully, we’re seeing the end of the pandemic,” said Courtney Upmann, a physician assistant in the emergency department.

“We’ve seen so many COVID patients,” said Dr. Andrew Ensz. “I haven’t gotten it yet, but my family - you know - I just want to be around my family again in a way that can be meaningful.”

Nemaha County Hospital will also be administering the COVID vaccine to those 75 and older. They’re hoping to receive more of the Moderna vaccine once they move into that second phase; making it easier for them to store and administer the vaccine to more and more people.

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